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Posted by Mark Tuckwood 7 March 2017 Workshops

Productivity is the goal for thousands, if not millions of individuals and organisations around the world on a daily basis. Seen as contributing to overall efficiency, increased output and even linked to job satisfaction, in that it allows individuals to feel more organised and ‘on top of their work’, commentators are always looking for the next life-hack that will bring greater productivity.


One facet of the working environment which is often lauded as being at the root of many a productivity problem is meetings.

Meetings have come under fire in recent years as being among the least productive methods of communication and decision making, sapping both time and energy from all involved and delivering negligible results.

According to a recent article by CMS Wire, ‘meetings can be derided as the scourge of your daily schedule, a pox upon your productivity, a morale-depleting morass of fuzzy agendas and awkward silences.’ It is argued that meetings per se are in fact not the problem, but that the temptation of many to jump straight to a meeting where an email conversation or prior individual work would yield the same or better results is leading to a culture of ‘dumb meetings’.


Many methods have been suggested to avoid such a drain on people’s time, including hosting daily stand-up meetings that last no more than 15-20 minutes to allow for team orientation, discussion of important topics, and any necessary questions.  

The Drum highlights a number of benefits to stand-up meetings, such as the fact that ‘less time in meetings means more time (and energy) for working. Plus, standing ramps up your metabolism and promotes an increased sense of alertness – never a bad thing.’ 

Yet the latest method for limiting the effect meetings have on productivity is to reserve one ‘meeting-free day per week’. In a recent article by Harvard Business Review (HBR), it was argued that ‘by giving yourself one meeting-free day per week, you reduce the context-switching that can slow down dedicated project work,’ and ‘simply work.’

While acknowledging that the long expanse of time afforded by a meeting free day doesn’t suit everyone’s working styles, it is argued that by clearing your schedule for one day per week in order to focus on the task at hand you can often make more progress, and simultaneously limit the stress that comes with handling too many tasks in one go. 


While the impact of a meeting free day on your overall productivity will depend very much on your working style, personality, and of course ultimately what you do with that day, the concept is also interesting in its ability to allow space and time for creativity and innovation.

Making time for ‘being creative’ is often one of the biggest barriers to implementing it as a culture in your organisation, as without such space it is liable to be shifted off to one side in pursuit of other, more tangible goals.

The Huffington Post argues that ‘time is essential for creativity. Creativity is essential for generating ideas and innovation, and ideas and innovation are what will drive future economies.’  While a meeting free day could make the difference to productivity in the short term, perhaps the more valuable long-term impact could be that it can contribute to innovative capacity and an overall shift in organisational culture.

Here at think we run a ‘one day to think’ workshop, which is normally run with teams of up to 30 people who work on a wide range of challenges. By helping organisations to understand what is required to make time for thinking and creativity, and embedding this knowledge experientially, we give organisations the tools needed to go back to the office and employ these techniques on a new meeting free day.

As global innovation specialists we aim to help and encourage people and organizations to become more nimble, boosting their ability to generate ideas. We bring pace and focus to your innovation initiatives using our unique innovation techniques, which are constantly being developed by our professional licensees. If you’re interested in becoming a licensee for the think team, contact us here.

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